Evolution in Krav Maga
Evolution of Krav Maga

Evolution in Krav Maga

As the Senior Instructor for Krav Maga Systems, I’m always looking at how I can improve my own knowledge. Things like my understanding of wrestling, ground fighting, striking and potentially different arts like Muay Thai, Capoeira, Savate, JKD or whatever. At the end of the day, I am extremely dedicated and interested in improving myself, (I’ve dedicated over 30 years to this), so that I can find better ways for my students (and for myself) and to really remain true to the philosophy of Krav Maga. I believe we all must learn and expand, and to look to understand all levels and all planes of fighting and combat, regardless of their name. 

Krav Maga literally means ‘Contact Combat’

My personal goals in this regard are very much in line with what I perceive true Krav Maga to be. Some people have a limited perspective of Krav Maga. ‘That’s not Krav Maga’, they say.  But I’m here to challenge that and get everyone thinking outside their one true organisation or source. You’re either training in a watered-down system or one that is so dogmatic that you believe your training is the only source of Krav Maga. Or perhaps both. There is so much more to Krav Maga than what most people realise, and so many streams of thought. I bet your instructor doesn’t encourage you to see how the other schools are doing things – because it’s not legit of course! 🙂

In an interview with IKMA-GS Senior Instructor Yigal Arbiv, he told me some people will even challenge him and Grandmaster Haim Gidon (one of Imi’s first Black Belts), saying ‘that’s not Krav Maga’. The reality is KM has its set of principles, but many systems have evolved differently. He explained that in Krav Maga, the non-watered down organisations all have the fundamentals: defending knife, defending choke, defending stick, defending multiple attackers, fighting tactics and so on! It’s the foundations of Krav Maga that are present throughout all legitimate lines of Krav Maga mainly. But, Grand Master Haim Gidon has added to the system. For example, he created ‘retzev’ in Krav Maga and he added many new techniques to the arsenal to serve his vision of making it complete. He continues to do this to the present time.

Senior Instructor Yigal told me of a time when good wrestlers from around the world were coming to learn Krav Maga. He explained that one guy who came along pretty much choked out all Haim’s blackbelts. This happened sometime in the 80s. Grand Master Haim got super pissed off but then set out to ensure that never happens again. He set out to learn as much as he can about ground fighting and other areas of combat. As a result, you can see that their Krav Maga is much richer and more holistic than the large majority of the others. This has influenced me in a massive way, to continue to better Krav Maga Systems without fear of judgement. We must learn from our experiences and aim to base our systems on truth. 

Ask yourself this; do you train thoroughly in your Krav Maga in wrestling, ground fighting and all aspects of combat? These days, the average guy knows BJJ and other martial arts, therefore we need to be better than we did 20 years ago! If you’re not doing the stuff that needs to be done (striking, grappling, weapons, etc with mild resistance at a bare minimum), are you getting the full picture?

Personally I’m not interested in having just one set of tricks (moves) and a criteria of movement that is fixed. I’m interested in evolving. While we need our sets of moves, principles and so on, ‘the basics’, it’s about evolution in every way.

Ultimately, Krav Maga is an open system that is meant to be modern and practical. Yet some people are training it as they did in the 80s and 90s. Some Instructors plain out only teach the way Imi did in his years. If you ask me, Imi would roll in his grave over that! Many organisations and individuals are still baking the same cake from over 20 years ago!

When someone knows true Krav Maga and the principles of it deeply, just as I do, it’s possible for that person to bolt things on to their personal arsenal. When I see something I like, I evaluate it, I test it and ensure that it can fulfil the principles of Krav Maga. If it can do that, and it is easy enough to integrate it for student learning, then it can be added to the arsenal. With my level and experience, it’s pretty simple to do this. It only happens here and there, but it’s been constant evolution over the years. Sometimes it’s a small thing, and sometimes it’s much bigger. I am constantly adjusting to ensure our Krav Maga is capable of defeating any modern threats, including dealing with someone who trains in a modern combat sport. 

Furthermore, I believe a one size fits all approach to self-defence has its limits. Sure, we aim to teach everyone similar things, but we also must do our best to ensure that the student is learning what will work for them, and what they can make their own. For example, I have a super small guy in one of my classes who is always looking for alternate techniques to make it work for him. Sometimes the set methods work, and other times we need to optimise or give something else! That’s important! We are dealing with individuals.

Basically, my main point is that Krav Maga is supposed to be evolving and modern. Yet often those trying to make that point are also screaming ‘that’s not Krav Maga’ and judging everything and everyone as sub-standard. If you’re not part of their organisation, you’re a faker! Actually even if you were part of their organisation (like I was), once you leave, you become the one who’s practising ‘bastardised KM’ (‘that’s not Krav Maga…. anymore’). Apparently all those years of training and going beyond the norm and excelling in every way are not counted when you’re solo like we are. I think the truth is that combat sports and martial arts have evolved, so true Krav Maga practitioners and trainers must be on the forefront of that! 

As a professional who is passionate about what he does, I need to be the best possible practitioner I can. I train every day in Krav Maga and I cross train often to improve my Krav Maga (understanding other systems and improving movement etc). I’m constantly pushing myself to learn more and grow. I would hate to be the Instructor that cannot do it, so I need to know everything! I cannot ignore a combat range (like wrestling) just because I may not understand it or because I fear to learn or to admit I don’t know. Too many Krav Maga instructors are in fantasy land and simply do the bare minimum to validate that to themselves, trusting their all-seeing chosen one to show them the way without thinking for themselves!

Pretty simple stuff! Let me know your thoughts….


This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mark_C_1

    Insightful. The name makes more sense to me now. Krav Maga System(s) i.e. more than one system, or potentially a fusion of a number of different systems that all come under the banner of ‘contact combat’. To come under that banner the factor that qualifies the system is that its inclusion makes for a good fit and it reinforces, if not strengthens and improves, the foundation of that which it is being added to. Makes sense.

  2. "Big George" Afutu Jr.

    Many Krav Maga systems in America differ with the needs of the particular region and State inside the country. For example, IKMFKMINYC strongly emphasizes multiple attackers and knife attacks while USKMA has a stronger emphasis on firearm defense and usage in their basic Belt/Rank levels. Other schools that many claim not to be true Krav Maga because they do not have a “Lineage” back to Imi Sde Or such as CKM and Warrior Krav Maga focus on extreme use of force in hand to hand Combative Self Defense. But all Civilian Krav Maga must constantly evolve to effectively address and deal with the most common threats of Street violence today, such as criminals who prefer to kill rather than fight and criminals and individuals who are familiar with MMA or train in Sport Combat such as Kickboxing and BJJ. And today there is also the threat of Mass Attacks from criminal gangs and mob violence from protest groups and even Active Shooters. All Krav Maga must continually evolve to address the survival needs of its Practicioners, not necessarily be concerned with fighting matches with trained Martial Artists.However, there are some cities and regions of America and the World where proficient Martial Artists are common like here in NYC so Krav Maga needs to adapt to this “Threat” too.

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